The Eastern Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has embarked on an exercise to close down all unlicensed agro-chemical shops and those flouting the rules and regulations governing their operations in the region.
The EPA has accordingly so far closed down 350 of those shops in a number of Districts in the Region.
The districts are, Afram Plains ( Kwahu North ), Kwahu East, Kwahu Central, Kwahu West, Birim Central, West Akyem, Atiwa, Fanteakwa and Kwaebibirem.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, the Eastern Regional Director of the EPA, Mr Felix Addo-Okyireh, who is leading the operation, said the padlocks they used in locking up those shops would be removed only after the shops had obtained the necessary permits and had met certain requirements and conditions.
Some of the conditions, the regional director said, were that shops should have trained attendants and also be equipped with ceiling fans, hand gloves, nose masks, fire extinguishers and sand buckets.
Mr Addo-Okyireh said the EPA team was monitoring activities of agro-chemical sellers to ensure that they were complying with the rules and regulations governing the sale of agro-chemicals.
He stated that the EPA organizes yearly workshops for input dealers and the last one was held at Bunso between May 27 and 30.
The director asked input dealers to take advantage of the educational programmes to be abreast of the requisite knowledge to enable them to operate effectively.
That would also enable them to advise those who buy and use the agro-chemicals.
He observed that the chemicals were poisonous and if care was not taken, it could cause health problems.
If they were also not well applied, they could get into water bodies which could endanger the lives of those drinking the water.
He declared that 2011 was a year of enforcement and compliance of EPA rules and regulations.
The Eastern Regional President of Agro-chemical Input Dealers Association, Mr Kwaku Osafo-Kantanka, advised agro-chemical input sellers to abide by the laws of the EPA if they want to be in business.
Mr David Bediako, Eastern Regional Organizer of the Association, called on the input sellers not only to obtain permits before opening shops in order not to face sanctions but also operate in a safe environment; not close to eateries or drinking bars.